Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Elite Ops Energy Strips Fierce Arctic Mint


Elite Ops Energy Strips is a new player on the energy strips field. They have little online presence since searching for the name will lead you to SAS and military-related information. Pretty cool to explore information, but I had a hard time finding any information about them and had to get creative with my search queries. For more information, just go directly to their website.

Elite Ops were developed to provide a lot of caffeine in a light and easy to carry package. My experiences with similar products have taught me that it is very difficult to hide the bitterness of caffeine in such a small volume, but we shall see how Elite Ops performs in a bit.

Taste

Right now Elite Ops energy strips come in a single flavor - Fierce Arctic Mint, but the creators are talking about bringing other flavors onto the market. I think mint is a very safe flavor to go with as an initial product because it is fresh and the oils should easily hide the bitterness from the active ingredients.

The strip has a rough and a smooth side and I tried placing both on my tongue to see which one would stick better, but both sides stuck to the top of my mouth, ripping the strip right off my tongue. That resulted in the strip turning into a ball but it wasn't a huge deal and it quickly dissolved both times.

Initially the strip has a very intense minty flavor, but after a few moments some bitterness comes through. It wasn't as much as I expected, though. Once stuck to your tongue, the fresh mint lingers throughout the entire time the strip is dissolving and well into the aftertaste, giving you a fresh breath for about 4-5 minutes. The bitterness is killed at first, but comes back once the strip is dissolved and adds a subtle bitter tone that sticks for a while.

Energy

Each strip contains 100 mg of caffeine and there are 8 strips in a box. Essentially in a little tiny packet, you are carrying the equivalent of 10 Red Bulls. Compared to other competitive energy strips, like Sheets, Elite Ops offers twice the amount of caffeine.

The energy strips take about 20-30 seconds to fully dissolve and the initial effects became apparent within 15-20 minutes. I didn't experience any jitters with the first strip, but when I had the second one 10 minutes later, I got a little shaky.

The full caffeine effects kick in in another 15 or so minutes and I felt super energized...especially having consumed 2 strips in quick succession. I had a bit of hard time focusing on mental work, but I had no problem doing physical work when I went outside 30 minutes later.

The effects lasted for about 4-5 hours and ended without any drama...yay no crash.

Despite the slow start, Elite Ops is a very powerful product. I think the package needs a bit of work, but once the money start rolling in, this will change. Look at Awake's initial packaging versus the new one....like night and day.

Scores:
Cost - $5.99 per pack
Taste - 8.5/10
Energy - 6.5/10 - 10/10 (depending on number of strips)

Overall - 15/20 to 18.5/20...minty fresh with a powerful kick

Monday, May 11, 2015

HiBall Energy Sparkling Energy Water Grapefruit


I bought this drink from a Target outside of Buffalo for $1.99. Other flavors are also available and seemed there was an abundance of them all.

Taste

I was expecting something similar to Vitamin Water's energy drinks, but Hi Ball turned out to be straight up carbonated water with a very well executed, rich grapefruit aroma.

Yes, this is just "plain" sparkling water. OK, lightly flavored...veeeery lightly flavored. Whilst drinking, you do get a mild taste of grapefruit that comes and goes. Immediately after each sip, there is a momentary burst of flavor that quickly dies. The aftertaste has a very subtle hint of citrus to remind you that you just drank something flavored.

I should also point out that there are no off-putting flavors from the caffeine in the drink. Normally manufacturers hide the caffeine with an intense flavor, but since the flavor here is very light, I thought it would worth mentioning something.

There are no calories or other weird stuff. This is just carbonated water so if you are on the market for something with a kick and flavored lighter than Vitamin Water, then Hi Ball is the drink for you.

Energy

Each can contains 160 mg of caffeine. I felt the effects within 15-20 minutes by feeling more alert and focused on what I was doing. There were no jitters, but I could feel the 160 mg of caffeine quickly being absorbed and pushed throughout the body.

In another 20 minutes I was feeling very energetic and could both run around and sit and read. The kick was clean and useful.

The effects lasted for just over 3 hours and ended without a crash.

Not a bad, lightly flavored drink. at all.

Scores:
Cost - $1.99 from Target
Taste - 8/10
Energy - 8.1/10

Overall - 16.1/20...light and potent

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Neuro Sonic Super Fruit Infusion


I heard from many people that this variety of the Neuro beverage line-up died not too long ago, but it doesn't seem to be dead in the northeast. I saw plenty of these bottles for sale at Target around Buffalo and have also purchased it from a few places in Michigan. A bottle will set you back around $2.50 depending on where you get it from and most places that carry Neuro Sonic, also carry Neuro Sleep and a bunch more Neuro drinks.

Taste

This beverage is supposed to taste like a super fruit infusion. But what is that? I don't think it is some new magical fruit, because the drink smells like a mix of cranberries, raspberries, a bit of blueberries and some sweet cherry cough syrup-like twist.

The taste seems watered down and thin at first, but after a few sips, the flavors start to emerge. I sensed a creamy cherry flavor that starts off light but turns very sweet near the finish. Also present are some distant raspberry notes. I was hoping for the cranberry flavor to be present for a tart finish, but sadly it is not there and I am left with a sweet cherry finish that gets sweeter and sweeter with each sip. Sure there are only 35 calories in the bottle, but there are plenty of sweeteners.

The aftertaste is dry, sticky sweet with lingering cherry and raspberry notes.

Another thing - the label says "lightly carbonated", but I found this to be just as carbonated as any other energy drink.

Super fruit is a much more exciting way to name the flavor than "Raspberry-Cherry". I will give them that, but overall, the flavor is nothing exciting, unique or highly enjoyable. I can see why there has been reports of the death of this beverage.

Energy

The proprietary blend includes 178 mg of active ingredients, with caffeine being the first on the list. According to the Neuro website, there are 100 mg of caffeine in the bottle, which is on the very low end for energy drinks of this size, but still enough to give most a nice kick.

It took around 15 minutes for me to start feeling the effects. I felt slightly more alert but also a bit jittery. In another 20 minutes the jitters had subsided and I was at a point where I had just enough energy to focus on some mental activities, but not enough that I wanted to run around in circles. Very good point to be at for me. The effects lasted for almost 2 hours and ended without a crash.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed with the flavor, but the kick is not too bad.

Scores:
Cost - $2.50
Taste - 6/10
Energy - 6.5/10

Overall - 12.5/20...weak flavor, but a decent kick

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hello Hungry Liquid Meal Review


A couple of weeks ago I was excited about the Hello Hungry Indiegogo campaign and now I have in front of me the actual product. Before I get started I should say upfront that I am a fan of vegetable juices, purees and drinks with grains.

Hello Hungry

Hello Hungry are liquid meals that range from "normal" (OK, not labelled normal, but I had to call it something) to "semi-sweet" to "sweet". The "normal" variety is made of vegetables (tomato and basil) while the "semi-sweet" introduces some fruits for sweetness and the "sweet" is sweet fruits and vegetables (carrots and beets are sweet).

Each one is fortified with buckwheat, which according to the label is one of 4 supergrains. I am no grain expert and all I know about buckwheat is that my mom was forcing me to eat that stuff growing up so I am not new to it.

Since Hello Hungry is supposed to quench your hunger, I decided to test these out on a semi-empty stomach to see how effective they would be. It took me a few long days at the office to find the right moment to drink each one and write about my experience.

Tomato and Basil

I decided to start from the vegetable one and work my way up to the sweet one.

The Tomato and Basil one has a caramel color and a thick consistency like any juice puree you might buy from a grocery store (readers from Europe will be more familiar with what I mean here).


On the nose this flavor is very sweet and heavy on the mango. I was confused at first, but when I read the label, I noticed that the third ingredient is mango puree at 18.3% of the total!!! Aside from the mango, there is very, very little of the tomatoes or basil in the aroma.

The flavor is where you notice there is more to this drink than mangoes. Sure, you get hit with a semi-sweet mango at first, but right after that come in sweet tomatoes, a very light yeast, bananas and a twist of citrus. I was actually expecting a straight up tomato and basil beverage, but this has so much more. The aftertaste is relatively clean with just a hint of tomatoes, a touch of basil and just a little bit of salt and bananas. Unlike beverages like V8, which are very heavy on the tomatoes, this one is not sour and overpowering. This flavor is more sweet than I expected. I was actually hoping for a bit more tomatoes.

The overall consistency is similar to that of baby food and the seasoning is very inoffensive, again, much like baby food. I liked this one, but I must state here that if you don't like vegetable shakes or supplements, or juices, or vegetables in general, than you may not fully enjoy this particular flavor.

Mango, Spinach and Peach

The Mango, Spinach and Peach one has a medium green color and a thick consistency. This is the flavor labelled as "semi-sweet". The aroma is once again dominated by mangoes, but that shouldn't come to as a surprise given the name of the drink. Peach, citrus and bananas come in close second.

Spinach kicks off the flavor and is present all throughout. The mango and peach complement the spinach better than I expected. The fruits add a bit of sweetness to the grassy spinach, but I found this drink to be a little less sweet for me than the Tomato and Basil one despite the fruits. The buckwheat is present, but very subtle.

The aftertaste is semi-sweet...hurhurhur...yeah, I used the name of the drink, but it is true. You get some sweetness from the bananas, mangoes and peaches, but the lingering spinach brings the sweetness down a bit. I liked this one more than the Tomato and Basil one.

Strawberry, Banana, Carrot and Beetroot

You guessed it, this is the "sweet" one of the bunch. The mix of fruits and vegetables gives this flavor a surprising light purple/beige color which looks odd, but in a way natural.


The aroma is heavy on strawberries, bananas and almond milk, but that shouldn't surprise you as almond milk is the second ingredient.

This one has to be the thickest of the bunch. The almond milk has a heavy presence all throughout. The wife and I are fans of almond milk and we have 2 cartons of it in the fridge, but I can see how there will be some opponents. After the almond milk comes in a yeasty note, followed by a balanced banana/strawberry blend, followed by a very light beet note. I can't taste the carrots until well into the aftertaste when all the other flavors die down a bit. The aftertaste also feels a little dry and chalky, but almond milk does tend to do that.

Despite this being the sweet one of the bunch, I didn't find it to be that sweet. Sure, it was sweeter than the other ones, but I was expecting something much, much sweeter...maybe I have a bias from all the sugar-full V8's and banana/strawberry shakes. In any case, I really, really liked this flavor. I love the almond milk and I love bananas and strawberries. I loved that it was sweet, but not very sweet.

Performance

So! The big question here is "Does it work?" Yes! Yes, it does. I felt full after each bottle and the main reason behind it is the consistency of the beverage.

Bottom line? Hello Hungry is pretty damn good and I hope these are sold in Canada in the future because I will definitely buy them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Red Bull The Cherry Edition


Looks like Red Bull is starting to worry about market share. This is the second new Red Bull I have tried in the past few weeks and the fourth new flavor in the last year and a half.

The Cherry Edition is not yet available in Canada, but I assume it would be very soon as the ingredients are virtually identical across all flavors and if the Canadian government has allowed one to come across the border, than all of the other ones should be allowed as well.

Taste

The Cherry Edition is a zero calorie drink. It has a deep red color that reminds me of a Jolly Rancher, and an aroma that is somewhere between a regular Red Bull and a cherry soda. 

The drink is very carbonated and I could barely taste anything the first few sips until I held a sip in my mouth. Up front you get very light, yet briefly intense and a little sour cherry notes (yup, wild cherries). I would compare the intense moments to eating the powder from a powdered drink. Following the cherry flavor is a light cranberry and regular Red Bull flavor. The aftertaste is very dry with lingering cherry notes.

What surprised me a little is how little of the sweetener you taste. The intense/concentrated sour cherry flavor keeps any off putting sweetener flavors at bay until well into the aftertaste. Even then, their presence is minimal. Not a bad drink overall, but cherry is just not a flavor that excites me.

Energy

The can contains 114 mg of caffeine and no surprises. The effects start off in about 15 minutes with a light jolt and made me feel awake and slightly more focused on what I was doing. Since there is no sugar, I felt no jitters.

In another 15 minutes I was feeling very energized and still fairly focused on what I was doing. The kick lasted for about 2 hours before slowly disappearing, but without a crash or any other negative side effects.

Scores:
Cost - $3.19
Taste - 8.2/10
Energy - 7/10

Overall - 15.2/20...great flavor and a decent kick

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Red Bull The Lime Edition


So there I was standing in line at Home Depot when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a dark green can in a sea of Red Bull cans. "Next, please" - yelled the cashier and I had not option but to move along, keeping an eye on the strange green can in the Red Bull fridge. Once I checked out, I went over to the fridge to verify my assumption - yup - new Red Bull The Lime Edition. I grabbed a can and I was back in line.

Wow, a new Red Bull flavor that I have not heard of. I was so happy...until I got back to the car and realized something - Red Bull's Silver Edition was lime flavored. The Silver Edition was discontinued not too long ago so I wondered if The Lime Edition had just replaced it in the Canadian market or if this was just some sort of a trial run. Well, whatever it is, I decided to give it a quick review and compare it to the Silver Edition.

Taste

Like the Silver Edition, the Lime Edition is almost clear in color and looks like someone squeezed a lime wedge in a can of soda. The aroma has the same cough syrup with lime scent. The taste? Yeah, about the same, only it seems a bit more sour. It tastes like cream soda with a splash of regular Red Bull and a squirt of concentrated lime juice. The aftertaste develops more of the regular Red Bull flavor that we are all too familiar with while the lime scent lingers subtly.

The Lime Edition is still as refreshing as the Silver Edition. Again, this seems like it is the same flavor, just in a new package.

Energy

Nothing new here - 80 mg of caffeine in the can. The effects are like any other can of Red Bull - quick burst of jittery energy with the caffeine lasting for about an hour and a half and disappearing.

Scores:
Cost - $2.99 from Home Depot, but I also saw it at a few gas stations
Taste - 7.5/10
Energy - 6/10

Overall - 13.5/20...repackaged Red Bull Silver Edition

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Starbucks Doubleshot Energy Hazelnut Review


It has been so long since I have reviewed a new Starbucks product. The last one was the latest Refresher, back in early 2014, and the one before that was actually an iced coffee was the Vanilla one in mid 2013. Almost 2 years since I had a new iced coffee from Starbucks.

OK, technically, the Hazelnut Doubleshot Energy drink/iced coffee is not new, but it is new to me. Over the years I have tried and reviewed all of the Doubleshot Energy drinks, except the Hazelnut because I had never been able to find it until my trip to Buffalo a few weeks ago. If memory serves me right, I bought the can from a Target for $2.49.

Taste

In the aroma, there are notes of coffee, sweet cream, hazelnut and vanilla ice cream. For a few brief moments it felt like I had stuck my nose in a jar of Nutella. The taste is sweet cream up front, followed by vanilla followed by hazelnuts. The coffee flavors are non-existent until the finish and even then they are very subtle and easy to miss. Right before the finish you also get a very nice, very intense hazelnut twist that last for mere moments, but it just tastes so good sip after sip, after sip.

The aftertaste is a blend of sweet milk and hazelnuts at the start, but with the milk raunchiness come in the subtle coffee flavors. The hazelnuts linger for a while and are present alongside the milk and the coffee hints. Give the aftertaste a minute or so and your mouth will start feeling dry, sticky and very sweet. I had to keep drinking so that my mouth wouldn't dry out. When I was finished with the iced coffee, I had to take a few sips of water to cleanse the sweetness and rehydrate myself.

This Doubleshot Hazelnut is very light and easy to consume quickly.

Energy

The caffeine content is not provided on the can, however, the Internet says that there are 145 mg of caffeine. My previous reviews of older Starbucks Doubleshot beverages confirm this amount. Some even say that it is as high as 146 mg....how about that?

The effects are noticeable within as quickly as 10 minutes. I was starting to gradually, yet quickly feel energized, my lower body felt a bit jittery, and my legs were starting to shake a little. Within another 15 minutes I was wired and ready to get the day started. By that time the jitters had subsided, but were still present. It took another 15 minutes for them to go away completely.

Once out of the house, I got almost 3 hours of decent energy at work and kick ended without a crash. But as I always say, had I had this iced coffee near the end of my day, I probably would have crashed since my body would have no more stored energy to offer.

Scores:
Cost - $2.49 from Target
Taste - 8/10
Energy - 7.4/10

Overall - 15.4/20...smooth, great hazelnut taste, a little too sweet for me, but the kick is nice